Middle East telcos are looking into an ambitious plan to challenge the social networking giant Facebook as well as other Western-based Internet titans, by creating an online-platform to tap and serve the Arab region. Gulf operators, along with affiliate companies are proposing the social media project, to diversify sources for revenue.
Middle Eastern telecommunications firms spend on the construction of expensive communications networks to meet increased data traffic brought by the proliferation of mobile applications, only to earn from what they charge in the access of these networks. All the while, Internet platforms like Facebook take up the largest shares in the revenue from traffic. This frustration is seen by analysts as the compelling force behind the plans to enter into the online platform industry.
However, the plan faces huge challenges - both technically and financially. Many online ventures by telecom firms in other parts of the globe had been unsuccessful. Google, Facebook, even Apple and Twitter are established companies with the technological-know-how. Challenging them appears to be a daunting task. Still, backers of the project believe that telcos in the Arab states can take advantage of the region’s common language, spoken by a staggering 350 million people.
The online platform will offer not only a new social media avenue but also an online space for shopping, and the purchasing of digital content. Other analysts are skeptical operators can make the transition to digital media and Internet services. Internet behemoths are already meeting the demand. Based on statistics from social media reports, almost 45.2 million users in the Middle East are already on Facebook.
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The Chinese government slammed the US Congress after an intelligence committee concluded after a yearlong investigation that telecom giants Huawei and ZTE posed a security threat to US security. The congressional report, which looked into the equipment and networking gears being sold by the telecom companies, warned private companies from making business deals with the Chinese operators.
Authorities in China dismissed the accusations that the Huawei and ZTE were being used by the state government to supply hardware that could be utilized as tools for overseas spying operations. The new heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington comes at an already politically sensitive period between the two nations.
Analysts have noted that the congressional report came at a time when Huawei has been mulling over a probable IPO in the US. Other experts say the report - which included recommendations to block mergers or acquisitions with the two companies - was a business move designed to protect national operators like Cisco.
China’s spokesman for the Commerce Department dismissed the report in a written statement as, “based on subjective speculation and false foundations.” State-run media outlets in China also reported the country’s foreign ministry reacting to the US development. The spokesman for foreign affairs, Hong Lei, commented that the investigation was undoing US-China trade relations.
Security analysts and intelligence officials in the US have been worrying over Huwaei and ZTE’s close relations with the Communist Party in China, as well as its military. The congressional report said that the two telecom companies we’re still under state-influence. The year-long investigation looked into the possibility the hardware being sold had been tampered by the installation of “back doors” which can be used to access information from computers.
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Photo courtesy of Bloomberg
As Telstra makes a bid to strengthen alliances with China’s telecommunications industry, the company has been dealt a blow with the sudden resignation of non-executive director, Timothy Chen, who had just been part of the board for six months.
Mr. Chen, who once served as a regional chief executive for Microsoft, and as president of Mortal in China four years ago, explained his resignation as a decision to focus his executive career in China.
Just six months ago, Mr. Chen joined the board at a time when Telstra was weathering tensions with China, after it banned the Chinese telecom giant Huawei from bidding in Australia’s National Broadband Network project.
Present Telstra chairman Catherine Livingstone commented on Mr. Chen’s shock resignation saying the Beijing-based director had the experience and expertise for Telstra’s plans for Asia.
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One of Russia’s largest telecommunications operator, Rostelecom, has suspended YouTube in the central region of Omsk after prosecutors urged the company to block the website amidst the growing tension over the anti-Islam film trailer of ‘Innocence of Muslims’.
The video has sparked outrage in the Islamic world, and the local prosecutors urged Rostelecom to stop the distribution of the video. Several courts across the nation have also asked telecom operators to block access to the videos for fears that it may instigate extremist views and actions.
Rostelecom’s spokesperson, however, said that the company blocked YouTube over piracy and illegal content being disseminated.
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Canstar’s data will soon be stored in Macquarie’s Intellicentre 1 Data Centre in Sydney, and will be connected to their Brisbane office through a data connection also provided by the telecom company.
The telecom company’s managed hosting solutions has been equipped with the highest-grade technical security along with intelligent management tools like the InView platform. Currently, its fully owned Australian based data centre offers customer support as more companies transition online with the looming NBN project.
Canstar’s Head of IT, Peter Hurwood, emphasized how Macquarie Telecom’s strategic services were in line with theirs, especially when it came to having a complete single-vendor hosting service.
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